In 1973, there likely were plenty of 45s stacked around the KHDX office in Hulen Hall, keeping music within easy reach for those early DJs at Hendrix College’s radio station. The DJs may not rely on vinyl much anymore at their current space in the Student Life and Technology Center (SLTC), but KHDX 93.1 FM, also known as the “10-Watt Tower of Power,” will be celebrating 45 years of broadcasts throughout this academic year, beginning with World College Radio Day on Friday, October 5.
“Other campuses in Arkansas have had multiple stations over the years, but KHDX has kept the same license at the same broadcast level longer than any of them,” said station manager Jacob Turner ’19. “We’re also one of the country’s last remaining FCC Class D stations, which is a special FM designation for radio stations owned by colleges and universities.”
KHDX is one of the largest campus stations in Arkansas. Fully funded by the Hendrix Student Senate, it boasts a seven-person, all-student staff, about 50 shows per year on the schedule, and an average of 75 DJs, with students, faculty, and staff among that total. In addition to reaching much of Conway over the airwaves, it also broadcasts online at khdx.fm.
Though the station’s existence does date back 50 years to 1968, broadcasting began in 1973, “so we’re going with ‘45’ as our celebratory number,” Turner said. “It’s an appropriate theme.”
For October 5, Turner has begun coordinating a 24-hour World College Radio Day marathon of broadcasting from the Burrow (as the lobby of the SLTC is known). KHDX will air live for all 24 hours to highlight student shows and music selections, and to host a series of local celebrities and guest DJs alongside the station manager, who will staff the booth for the entire day.
The 45th anniversary celebration will continue into next semester with projects such as “Hear Hendrix,” an album release of acoustic music produced by members of the Hendrix community; compiling a full history of the station to post on khdx.fm; the Hat Trick Music Festival, which since 2014 has brought up-and-coming musical acts to Conway; and a gathering of past DJs and staff on Alumni Weekend, April 5-7, 2019.
“KHDX has always been a place where students, and even staff and faculty, can express their individuality,” said Dr. Maureen McClung ’01, faculty advisor to the station and a DJ during her years as a Hendrix student. “It’s great to step back and observe the collective diversity in programming we have always generated. From metal to country to indie to avant-garde, we have done it all. I remember as a freshman playing songs from Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster alongside Bjork and Curtis Mayfield. Where else on the radio do you hear something like that?”
While KHDX plays a lot of music, it also serves as a creative outlet for “spoken word and other auditory creations,” Turner said. It reaches beyond its own broadcast concerns, too: Last year, it became a charter member of the Arkansas College Radio Association (ArkCRA), a support and resource network of collegiate radio stations in Arkansas.